The Fall of the Compson Family in Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury

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The Fall of the Compson Family in Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury

That Faulkner’s title for his complicated The Sound and the Fury comes from Macbeth is common knowledge, and reading the novel only confirms Faulkner’s choice as sound. Certainly there is an almost constant desire to behead characters so as to quiet their almost constant “bellering.” The common theme critics identify in the novel is the terrible fall of the Southern aristocracy, yet I cannot help but think that there was not, by that time, far to fall, at least not in the case of the Compson family. Faulkner’s modernist fiction supposedly speaks to the demise of the Old South, a decline encapsulated in the Compson family’s trajectory of self-pity and tragedy. The implication is that this is a family well-entrenched in the aura of the Old South, which suffers a loss of prestige and valor in the dark days following the literal and symbolic muddying of Caddy’s drawers. Indeed, with Quentin’s suicide, the last of the Compson family, in terms of its past, is come to an end – but not because his death is part of a lo...

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